Sapphire Atlantis 9800XT

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The Sapphire Atlantis 9800XT - Page 6

The Sapphire Atlantis 9800XT
Up Close and Personal with Sapphire's Radeon 9800 XT 256MB

By, Marco Chiappetta
December 30, 2003

Head-to-Head Performance With Tomb Raider: AOD
Lara is Back! As Crappy as Ever!


Tomb Raider: AOD

Although Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness won't be winning any "Game of the Year" awards, it is one of the more advanced DirectX games currently available.  We've recorded a custom demo of Lara jogging through an indoor garden area of the "Prague3" map. When using the Pixel Shader 2.0 code path, this area of the game utilizes a DOF (depth of field) blurring effect to enhance your sense of depth and size. We ran our custom demo at 1024x768 and again at 1600x1200 using both the Pixel Shader 1.4 and 2.0 code paths (with and without 4x anti-aliasing in the PS 2.0 tests).

When using the Pixel Shader 1.4 code path (DirectX 8.1), the Radeon 9800 XTs and GeForce FX 5950 Ultra maintained similar frame rates (as expected the 5700 Ultra performed much lower).  However, when using the Pixel Shader 2.0 code path the Radeon 9800 XTs performed much better than the competition, outpacing the 5950 Ultra by roughly 30% at both resolutions.  When we enabled 4X anti-aliasing, the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra gained some ground, but it still couldn't come close to the Radeon 9800 XTs.

Overclocking With The Sapphire Atlantis Radeon 9800XT
Fast is Good.  Faster is Better!


Sapphire's Redline Utility

By including their custom "Redline" overclocking / tweaking utility, Sapphire almost ensures that all of their customers will easily be able to overclock their cards.  Whether they included their utility or not, however, we would have taken this card to its limit, because that's the kind of people we are here!  Sure, the Sapphire Atlantis Radeon 9800 XT is fast, but if there's more performance to be had by overclocking, we're going after it!  Ultimately, we were able to squeeze quite a bit of extra performance from our card, take a look...

We raised the Atlantis Radeon 9800 XT's core and memory clock speeds until we began to see visual artifacts in our benchmarks and then brought it back down to a speed that was both stable and glitch free.  In the end, we brought the card's core clock speed up to 445MHz (up from 412MHz), and the memory clock speed up to 398MHz - 796MHz DDR (up from 364MHz).  With the card overclocked, we ran the Gun Metal benchmark again at 1280x1024 and saw a 9.6% performance gain.  Interestingly enough, while overclocked, the Sapphire Radeon 9800 XT surpassed the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra by a tiny margin, something it was not able to do at default speeds, in this specific benchmark. 

We should also mention that we experimented with ATi's Overdrive feature a bit as well.  With Overdrive enabled, our GPU core was automatically overclocked to only 418MHz, while the memory clock stayed at default.  Not very exciting to say the least but this is by design for all 9800XT cards and a guaranteed stable setting by ATi.  Hardcore enthusiasts will likely go the way of Sapphire's Redline or other utilities, to unlock more of the card's potential.

If you look at the Sapphire Atlantis Radeon 9800 XT in the proper context, you can't help but be impressed by it.  At roughly $430, the Atlantis 9800 XT isn't cheap, but it is less expensive than similar cards, and only slightly more expensive than some 5950 Ultras (Asus 9800XT = $480 / ATi 9800XT = $435 / FX 5950 Ultra $410).  Sapphire has also done a good job with the card's bundle, including their proprietary Redline utility and one up-to-date game, along with a voucher for Half Life 2.  As is the case with all Radeon 9800 XTs, image quality in games, 2D and DVD playback is top-notch and looking at the graphs, its obvious this card is an excellent performer as well.  The only thing we stuggled over with the Sapphire Atlantis 9800 XT, was the simple installation problem we had with the Redline utility, but this was easily resolved after a simple update download.  Ultimately, we were very pleased with the Sapphire Atlantis Radeon 9800 XT and are giving it a solid 9 on the HotHardware Heat Meter.  If you can afford it, you will definitely enjoy gaming with this card.

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Tags:  Sapphire, App, LAN, SAP, 980, XT, AP

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